Reds settle on 25-man roster

Jason Marquis, 36, hasn't pitched in the majors since 2013 because of an elbow injury that required surgery but has had a productive spring

John Locher/AP

GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Reds manager Bryan Price announced Thursday morning that the Reds have come to decisions on who will be on their 25-man roster to start this season. The decisions included a couple of surprise names as well as a notable absence.

Four non-roster players have been told they have earned spots on the team — starting pitcher Jason Marquis, reliever Kevin Gregg, outfielder Brennan Boesch and infielder Chris Dominguez — while pitchers Michael Lorenzen and Sam LeCure were sent to the minor leagues. Lorenzen, 23, had been challenging to earn a rotation spot despite being drafted less than two years ago. He was reassigned to the minor-league camp. LeCure, who has pitched more than 300 innings for the Reds since making his MLB debut in 2010, was placed on waivers this week without being claimed. The 30-year-old LeCure was outrighted to Triple-A Louisville. He is no longer on the club’s 40-man roster.

Price said the Reds will place three players on the disabled list for the start of the season: starting pitcher Homer Bailey, reliever Sean Marshall and outfielder Jason Bourgeois. It’s expected that Marshall and Bourgeois will be placed on the 60-day DL, creating room on the 40-man roster, but that has not been announced yet.

The Reds don’t have to make final transactions until Sunday. There is always the possibility that the 25 players on the team today won’t be the same 25 players who suit up for Opening Day; the Reds acquired pitcher Alfredo Simon on waivers from Baltimore on April 3, 2012, the day before Opening Day, and optioned Todd Frazier to Louisville after it appeared Frazier was going to start the season in the big leagues.

The Reds close out spring training in Arizona on Thursday with a game against Cleveland. They will play games in Montreal against Toronto on Friday and Saturday to close out the exhibition season.

Opening Day is Monday at Great American Ball Park against Pittsburgh at 4:10 p.m. on Fox Sports Ohio.

Here’s a look at how the 25-man roster shapes up at this point.

*Note: Players are listed in alphabetical order, except for starting pitchers. They are in expected order.

STARTING ROTATION

Lineup: Johnny Cueto (RHP), Mike Leake (RHP), Anthony DeSclafani (RHP), Jason Marquis (RHP), Raisel Iglesias (RHP).

Reds send reliever Sam LeCure to minors in final moves

On the DL: Homer Bailey (RHP).

Last cut: Michael Lorenzen (RHP).

The lowdown: With Bailey starting the season on the DL, Cueto and Leake are the lone familiar names from rotations past. DeSclafani came to the Reds in the deal that sent Mat Latos to Florida and is in position to pay immediate dividends. Marquis, 36, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013 because of an elbow injury that required surgery but has had a productive spring and brings a veteran presence to a starting staff undergoing change. Iglesias was already on the 40-man roster, a fact that helped the Reds decide to keep him with the big club over Lorenzen. Iglesias is likely going to make just one start before Bailey returns and then can be used out of the bullpen. Lorenzen will get a chance to start every fifth day in Louisville. Don’t be surprised to see him in Cincinnati at some point this season.   

BULLPEN

Lineup: Burke Badenhop (RHP), Aroldis Chapman (LHP), Tony Cingrani (LHP), Jumbo Diaz (RHP), Kevin Gregg (RHP), J.J. Hoover (RHP), Manny Parra (LHP).

On the DL: Sean Marshall (LHP).

Last cut: Sam LeCure (RHP).

The lowdown: Chapman is one of baseball’s dominant closers but the Reds had trouble getting the ball to him with a lead last season. Fixing that bridge from the middle to late innings was a top offseason priority for general manager Walt Jocketty. The acquisition of Badenhop, who gets a lot of groundballs, and the emergence of Gregg, who is coming back from a 2014 season in which he suffered from elbow inflammation, are part of the makeover. Diaz could end up as the main eighth inning setup pitcher ahead of Chapman, certainly from the right side. LeCure’s absence was a surprise but the Reds are concerned about his fastball command and want him to work on that in the minors. Hoover is trying to rebound from a 2014 season in which he allowed 13 home runs. He has the faith of Price. Parra has been healthy this spring. He and Cingrani, who could perform multiple roles as a reliever, provide the Reds with left-handed options setting up Chapman.  

CATCHERS

Lineup: Devin Mesoraco, Brayan Pena.

The lowdown: No surprises here. Mesoraco hopes to be behind the plate more often this season after two stints on the DL in 2014. He’s also hoping to improve on impressive offensive numbers of 25 home runs and 80 RBI from last season despite those setbacks. Pena is a solid backup who is a great presence in the clubhouse. He proved his versatility and worth last season when he filled in at first base with 45 starts while Joey Votto was out of the lineup. Not bad for a guy who had made just four previous appearances at that position with no starts.  

INFIELD

Lineup: Zack Cozart (SS), Chris Dominguez, Todd Frazier (3B), Kristopher Negron, Brandon Phillips (2B), Joey Votto (1B).

The lowdown: Votto is healthy. That’s the biggest news no one is talking about coming out of this spring training camp. The health of his knee simply hasn’t been a topic of discussion since he first played a game on March 7. Votto has looked sharp all spring. That above all else this season gives the Reds a shot at being more than people think of them. The starting infield is one of the top defensive infields in MLB. Frazier is coming off a breakout season (29 home runs, 80 RBI, .459 slugging) and the Reds expect the same from him in 2015. Negron showed his versatility in the second half of last season. He’s capable of playing all infield spots except first base, plus in the outfield. Dominguez, a University of Louisville product who had been a top prospect in the San Francisco organization, has shown power this spring but Price said it was improved defense and his ability to play first, third as well as the corner outfield spots that earned him a spot on the roster. Don’t look for Votto to take a lot of days off this season, but at least the Reds shouldn’t have to use Frazier, Pena or Jay Bruce there this season.

OUTFIELD

Lineup: Brennan Boesch, Jay Bruce (RF), Marlon Byrd (LF), Billy Hamilton (CF), Skip Schumaker.

On the DL: Jason Bourgeois.

The lowdown: The Reds traded for Byrd to stabilize left field and, hopefully, give them some consistent production from that position. He has played well this spring, giving Price and Jocketty no cause for concern that he can’t meet expectations. Bruce is seeking to bounce back and prove that his 2014 numbers (17 home runs, 66 RBI, .373 slugging) were an aberration and that he can be that player who produces 25-plus homers and 90-plus RBI. Hamilton has nothing to prove on defense but he has to improve his ability to get on base out of the leadoff spot. Hamilton wore down in the final month of 2014. Boesch has impressed Price and Jocketty with his ability to play center field. He could give Hamilton more time off in the early portion of the season as well as spell Byrd and Bruce. Schumaker can also play the infield and is well-respected in the clubhouse for how he goes about his business.